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What Physiotherapy Has to Do with Cardiac Surgery

One may feel fatigued and sore after cardiac surgery; it is only natural. On the other hand, it seems altogether strange to think of embarking on a course of physiotherapy afterwards instead of just resting. Yet, that is just what is recommended. Types of cardiac surgery include bypass surgeries, angioplasty, stents, heart valve replacements, and even heart transplants. Patients having all of these surgeries can benefit from physiotherapy. Patients who have other cardiac problems can use the help too; they include victims of heart attacks, heart failure, peripheral artery disease, chest pain, and cardiomyopathy.

Physiotherapy will usually begin within a couple of weeks of cardiac surgery, if not sooner. The first step is for nurses or doctors to administer a stress test to determine how much exercise one can handle. This involves walking on a treadmill or riding on a stationary bike while having one's vital signs monitored. When the data is gathered and analyzed, a program of physical therapy will be put into place. For safety's sake, it is often the routine to bring cardiac surgery patients into the hospital or an outpatient clinic for their exercise at first.

Under the watchful eyes of nurses and physiotherapy personnel, cardiac surgery patients will be looked after as they perform their exercises. This way the professionals will be alerted if the cardiac surgery patient is having troublesome symptoms. The exercises done are cardiovascular exercises like walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. After the initial period of the monitored physiotherapy has passed, cardiac surgery patients will be sent to do their exercising at home. Before they go, though, they will have been taught warm-up and stretching exercises, and when to stop. Generally, they should exercise three to five times a week unless they are having problems. Swimming is another form of exercise that is especially good for cardiac surgery patients. It is a cardiovascular exercise that is not hard on the joints, so it will often be kept up longer. The only thing to remember is that all wounds must be completely healed first. Physiotherapy for cardiac surgery patients is often not carried out by physiotherapy staff.

Nurses in hospitals and clinics who are trained to deal with these areas of rehabilitation for cardiac surgery will do the work. However, physiotherapists sometimes help, and the principles are the same. The physiotherapist will instruct the patient about what activities are acceptable in the weeks and months after surgery. During the first six weeks, there will only be a few activities allowed, such as light housekeeping or going to movies, for example. From then until the third month, more activities will be added. You may be able to return to work, at least part-time, you may be able to drive. After this time, your physiotherapist will work with you to ease you back into all your old activities. If a patient has cardiac surgery and then does nothing to regain strength, that patient will soon weaken. Physiotherapy offers a means to stay in shape, or get into shape. It lends more purpose to the cardiac surgery by making the patient much healthier than before the surgery ever took place.

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